You’ve probably heard of VPNs by now, but some of you might still be on the fence. Are they any good? Aren’t they risky? Do you even need one?
Here’s the problem – there’s a lot of misinformation about VPNs going around. You’ll often see online articles and people claiming VPNs do one thing when – in reality – they don’t. Or that they have a major drawback that is blown way out of proportion.
So we put together this article to address the most common VPN myths we have heard so far.
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Myth #1: VPNs Are Too Difficult to Use
If you’re not very tech-savvy, or if you’ve never seen a VPN in action, you might get the impression that it’s a very complicated tool – especially when you see an in-depth explanation of how it works.
Now, there is some truth to that. If you were thinking of setting up your own VPN server or configuring the OpenVPN or SoftEther client on your device, things will get pretty complicated.
But here’s the good news – commercial VPNs (the ones you buy) are very user-friendly. All you need to do is:
- Download a VPN app.
- Install it on your device.
- Connect to a VPN server.
And that’s about it. If you want to tweak some connection settings (like choosing which protocol to use), you can easily do that in the Options/Settings sections most clients have.
Don’t believe us? Here’s a screenshot of PIA’s client:
As you can see, it’s extremely simple and has a very intuitive design. You run and disable the connection with the big on/off button, and click VPN SERVER under it to choose what servers to connect to.
Myth #2: VPNs Are Too Expensive – I Can’t Afford One!
We often heard this from our readers. Yes, some VPNs can be expensive ($9.99 per month or more), but that doesn’t mean all of them to come with a steep price tag.
In reality, a VPN will cost you around $5 per month on average or $60 annually. Some services can even go as low as $1.89 or $1.50 per month.
We recommend checking ProPrivacy’s guide to find the best VPNs for value. It’s a list of the cheapest VPN services on the market, and all the information is presented in a very reader-friendly manner.
Pro Tip: VPNs can actually help you save money when paying for stuff online – like plane tickets, bookings, car rentals, video games, and more. So if you’re worried about money, a VPN might be just the tool you need to get cool discounts.
Myth #3: VPNs Sell Your Data
That claim would only be true if it would say that “some shady VPNs sell your data, usually free ones.”
So far, services like that have been found to:
- Sell user bandwidth.
- Sell user data to advertisers.
- Scam people out of their money.
- Use tons of tracking libraries (and likely sell the data they gather to third parties).
- Intentionally expose users to malware.
That’s usually the case with VPNs that claim to be completely free (they need to make money somehow) and shady VPNs that use false advertising to get people to spend money on them.
With legit, paid services (some of which might even have a free plan), you don’t need to worry about that. They have a business model to support themselves financially, after all.
Plus, quality VPNs don’t keep logs, meaning they don’t monitor how you use their service. Some of the best VPNs don’t even record your IP address when you use their apps or websites. And they also let you play with cryptocurrencies to enjoy more privacy.
Myth #4: If You Use a VPN, Your Speeds Will Slow Down to a Crawl
There is some truth to that claim. A VPN can lower your online speeds because:
- You’re too far away from the VPN server (it’s on a different continent). In that case, it takes longer for data packets to travel between the VPN app on your device and the VPN server, resulting in slower speeds.
- The VPN uses encryption that’s too powerful and a resource-intensive protocol (like OpenVPN). Also, your CPU might not be powerful enough to handle the encryption-decryption process.
However, that doesn’t mean your original speeds will tank a lot. For example, if you have 1 Gbps speeds, using a VPN won’t lower them until they’re 1 Mbps or less.
As long as you use a decent VPN that has servers optimized for speed, unlimited bandwidth, lightweight protocols, and hundreds or thousands of servers to choose from (so that you can find a server close to you), you should be fine.
But don’t just take our word for it. Here’s what Ookla’s Speedtest has to say:
These are our original speeds. The tester is from Romania.
And these are the speeds we got after connecting to a US server from PIA running the OpenVPN protocol over UDP.
Overall, not a very bad downgrade. We still had a decent online experience and could download large files pretty fast.
Myth #5: VPNs Protect You from Malware
It’d be really cool if VPNs could do that, but – unfortunately – that’s not the case. A VPN just isn’t designed to protect your device from malware infections.
It can, however, encrypt your Internet traffic to stop hackers from monitoring your online communications. There’s also a chance they could stop them from using MITM attacks against you.
Oh, and some VPN providers have firewall-like features that can keep you safe from malicious sites. CyberSec from NordVPN is one example that comes to mind. Basically, it automatically blocks your connections to shady websites that might be infected with malware.
Know Other VPN Myths?
If you do, tell us about them. If they’re interesting enough, we’ll include them in this article, and even credit you.